I Floated. Then I Hit The Ground With A Thud.

Do you know what it’s like? When your toes curl? When your heart races? When your soul calms down? Do you know what it’s like to feel like you’re the purpose of another human being’s existence? Like nobody else in the room will ever matter more than you do? Like the luckiest being alive?

I do.

Have you read a Mills & Boon book? The rich and handsome Italian man falls in love with the almost-average girl that brings trouble where she goes? That was my story. Everyone involved in my life knows bits and pieces of this story. But nobody knows the truth. I never trusted anyone with the truth. This truth.

I was your typical teenager. Born into a dysfunctional family. I had no sense of permanent relationships. Terrified of commitment in my own way. I ran from things that mattered. I enjoyed the temporary. I enjoyed the boys that swore they’d never love me. There was a comfort in knowing that. Because I knew how to be prepared for the temporary. I knew to believe that people would leave. I didn’t have faith in the ones who promised to stay.

I was visiting my father in another country. A friend in that city introduced me to him. On another occasion, I would have flirted with the guy. But not him. Even I knew he was far too out of my league. He was handsome. Not the kind I was used to. Snobbish and cynical. Grudgingly atheist. He too came from parents that would have been happier apart but chose to be miserable together. He knew the fear of promises and forevers. We became MySpace friends.

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22nd July 2010. I needed a lunch buddy. He said “Yes.” We got subway. He called it a date. I didn’t say No.

It’s summer romance. I’ll leave and he’ll forget about me. A guy like that is not interested in me. He just wants to have fun. Fun is good. Fun is safe. Fun it is.

I landed back home after the summer. I turned on my phone and there it was – “I hope you got home safe. Call me the moment you can. I’m counting days till I see you again. Yours truly, R.”

I still grin when I think about it. It was our inside joke. “Yours truly.” He was my Shakespeare in disguise. I had fallen in love with a man that was far too good for me. He was mine. And not just for the summer.

We did the long distance thing. For two months. I’d cry and he’d make me smile with stories of the adventures we’d go on when we were together again. If love could be a person, it’d be him. He introduced me to all his siblings and best friends. I was “the girl he’s going to marry.”

When I got insecure, he got on a flight to visit me. When I got upset, he stayed up all night talking to me. And the best part? When I missed him, he missed me.

Hand written love letters. 8-hour skype calls. I wasn’t just in a relationship. I was in THE relationship. I had something every girl dreamed of. I had a man nobody ever gets to meet. I felt something I’d read of. A feeling of floating on the clouds. I was excited yet calm. He was my storm. He was my warm cup of coffee and cozy book during the storm. He was everything I’d ever wanted. He was everything I’d never thought of. He became the one I wanted to hold on to forever.

And life, for the most part, was beautiful.

But Fate never did like it when that happened.

There is this moment we all go through in our lives. The moment we find ourselves unable to help as we watch the ones we love suffer. We can support them. We can stay on the phone for hours so they feel better. But we can’t fix the feeling that hits them the moment we hang up. We can’t fix their problem.

His father got very sick. He moved back to Italy. The long distance became longer. His emotions grew messier. And I was useless.

There are particular emotions you feel at certain moments that you’ll never forget.

I’ll never forget the inability to reach out and hold him as he cried for hours. I’ll never forget my heart break as I couldn’t help him when he needed me the most. I’ll never forget the regret of not being there with him when I should have.

He lost his father after a long struggle. As a result, he lost himself. An adrenaline junkie.  He drank out of his mind. He slept with every woman that went his way. The man I loved became someone I would never consider being with.

His sisters told me he’d gone off the edge and I should give up. But I couldn’t. Because you don’t give up on a relationship because it got difficult. You don’t give up on someone you love because they’ve gone off the edge. I fought for who we were. And this is the moment where the world will begin to disagree with my choices.

After being unreachable for four weeks, he drunk dialled me. At 2:37am on a rainy night.

“Hey babyyy. Guess what? I was just with three women at the same time! Aren’t I the coolest?” I saw a man struggling to fill a void while running away from it. I smiled and asked him to get home safe.

After fighting with me for days, he told me he was too drunk to know where his home is. He’d forgotten his address and was unable to identify which of the cards in his wallet had his address. I had him hand the phone to someone standing next to him and requested them to guide him home. The woman who loved him but never got the opportunity to be with him became my helpline. She showered him. Had him change clothes. Put him to bed. And waited for him to sleep. I still find myself owing her one for that.

We were in the same city again. We had a fight. We went back to his place and his anger got the better of him. It was a fraction of a second. I told him he was overreacting. The next moment I had my palm on my cheek. It was the first of many times.

A date after forever turned into the beginning of the end.

10th September, 2011. 12:45am his time.

“I need to be without you. You’re holding me back. I can’t go through this with you anymore. I can’t be tied down to someone like you. I need to be with me. And lots of other people. It’s time for me to be with other people. This is what I want for my birthday.”

I hung up after telling him something he’d told me a little over a year ago. Something he told me right before he said the words I never thought I’d hear, for the first time.

“If you ever have a wish, I want you to know, I’ll do anything to make it come true. Because I love you. And there’s no changing that.” I gave him his wish. He was no longer tied to me.

I didn’t cry.

I met him a few months later. He was sober. He was dating the one who wanted him. The one who rescued him when I was in another country. The one I owe. He called me that night. It was like old times. He asked me to say Yes. Said he’d give up everything and come back to me. But that was his guilt talking. Not his heart.

I’ve heard people dissect my relationship. Call me weak for staying when he got abusive. Some said I was an idiot for leaving someone so wealthy and handsome.

A few months ago, I met a friend. We talked about dating. We talked about him. She made a comment.

“He broke you. He became a monster. I don’t know why you can’t see that.”

I thought about that days after the conversation.

I fell in love with someone nice. Someone kindhearted. Someone caring. He believed in me. He believed in us. He worked for the greater good of so many. He took over his younger brother’s tuition because he could. He gave away money every month for the elderly and the adopted. He was made of something most people don’t understand. He loved so freely. He didn’t have expectations. He didn’t expect you to love him back. He never hurt people. He was careful with emotions.

He made me ambitious. He gave me a reason to work harder. He made me comfortable in my own skin. Everything I am today is because he walked in to my life when he did. Everything I will ever be, I will owe to him. He was my pillar of strength.

But life caught up to him. It threw him a curveball he didn’t know how to tackle. He gave in to the pressure. It didn’t make him an abuser. It didn’t make him an alcoholic. It didn’t make him a cheater.

It made him human.

He didn’t break me. He made me better when I was at my worst.

And I only wish I could have done the same for him.

What You Leave Behind..

Andy Warhol

We all want to do something significant. We want to leave a part of us behind for everyone else to remember us by. We buy all these things and then we write a will about who’ll get what. That’s the part of us we leave behind for them and they’ll leave behind to their kids and for generations this will be passed around and you will be known as the person to whom it belonged. You will be remembered through that object.

I was at an Andy Warhol exhibit in Singapore a few years ago. I loved the art, the creativity, the small facts I got to learn about him. Spread across many different walls were quotes. His quotes. As a writer, I love reading quotes and thinking about what it might have meant to that person when they said it but when I read this particular quote, I didn’t care. I didn’t care what it meant to him or what he was thinking when he said it because this quote was all about me. It spoke to me in a way that I can’t explain. It was every thought I had ever had about death – My death. Andy Warhol had read my mind before I even existed.

Death is one of the most commonly occuring thought processes in my mind. Last night, right before I drifted off to sleep, I couldn’t stop thinking about the number of people that would be affected should I die that very second. My close family is a given and I can’t stop them from feeling miserable about it but the outsiders. The friends I’ve made and the people I affect. The ones that choose to love me and the ones I presume our affectionate towards me, though I may be wrong. How many of them will actually have a day when they pick up their phones just to realize I’m not alive for them to call? How many will miss me? This was the best thought I have had in a very long time.

I hate to admit this to anyone because it always rubs off the wrong way – I’m a control freak. If something is a certain way, it has to be that way. If you make a plan to meet me, you better show up. Do not call me in the very last minute and say “I can’t make it.” I’ll understand. But I will also be so so annoyed because that just completely wrecked my day. A few years ago my brother and I were supposed to go birthday shopping. He ditched me last minute. Even today, I always call him ten minutes before I leave to ensure he’s going to make it. And it’s difficult to find a friend that is not annoyed by this. Someone who understands and accepts this part of you.

They say a friend is the only person who doesn’t judge you for your choices and sticks with you no matter what and I got to realize exactly who they were in my life last night and I felt bad. Because when I die, I affect some of the kindest people I’ve known. Is that really what I want?

This is why I think suicide is selfish. It’s not cowardly. It’s not stupid. It’s selfish. When a person decides to take his own life, he is only thinking about himself. He is only thinking about ending his misery. He doesn’t stop to think just how many people around him, how many loved ones will suffer for the rest of their lives because he chose not to care about anyone but himself. They will live forever wondering why they didn’t see. Why they didn’t help. Don’t you think Robin Williams’ daughter wonders that? His friends? His family? His colleagues?

A long time ago, I had this plan – When I’m old and done with all my responsibilities, I want to throw a party. A big one to invite everyone that’s ever known me. And if any of them ever wanted to write a euology, they can write one and read it to me at that party because seriously, what’s the point of saying nice things to me once I’m dead? So I just want them to read it. And I’ll say goodbye and I’ll take a little bit of the money I’ve earned in my life, pack my bags, erase or throw away any object that could remind the people that love me that I’m no longer there and just leave. They won’t know where I am. They won’t know if I’m alive or dead. I’d have vanished. Like Andy Warhol said he’d like to do.

Because we can’t live in fear. We can’t keep away from the ones we love, the ones who love us just because we’re afraid of the scar we’ll leave behind. We can’t not make memories in fear of those incredible moments turning into nightmares someday. But there is something we can do :

We can stop spending our times accumulating materialistic things and instead just care and be compassionate. We can learn to be kind and show others what living can truly mean. We can save something that five generations wouldn’t just pass around but would talk about. Would want to live upto.

Because the things you leave may rot and fade but the memories and life lessons – they’re here to stay.

What Does The Label Read ?

Remember walking into a store and looking around when you find the perfect pair of shoes? You pick it up, turn it around and read the label. You put it back down because it’s way too expensive. You mentally think it needs to be cheaper but that does not mean you suddenly think the shoes are ugly. They’re still perfect but just not what you would choose for yourself. So you walk away. You don’t stand there and scream. You don’t rally outside the store. You don’t hold placards and demand a law against the price. You definitely don’t send the store owner hate mails and death threats.

There was this couple. They met in high school. Shared an apartment in college. A few years after graduation, they got engaged. The guy got diagnosed with cancer shortly after. They stuck together through it and after he’d won the battle, they got married. They couldn’t have a kid, so they adopted one. Their love story has inspired many in their town. It was the kind of love we dream of. The kind we read of. The big, fancy, whole-hearted love that makes your heart melt. But that love came with a label – Gay.

He was perfect. I was at a point in my life where I didn’t really want to be caught in a relationship. So was he. We were compatible and he could have very well been The One. But every time we talked I wanted him to say the word. I kept thinking ‘What will the world say about me if he didn’t give me that title? Won’t they judge me?’ I ruined what could have been an incredible thing by waiting for a label – Girlfriend.

He hit her everyday. He abused her. Physically. Mentally. She was in pain all day, everyday. But she tried to make it work. She believed she can change him. For years she put up with trauma while hoping that her life will get better. One fine day, she couldn’t take it anymore. She made the decision to leave. She wanted a brand new start. But people looked down on her. Guys thought twice before dating her. They didn’t know her story. They just knew the label – Divorcee.

He knew who he was. He’s known it since the day he was born. His parents had difficulty accepting him. He struggled as he grew up. He tried to get society to accept him for who he was. A society that looked at his body and not his mind. A society that was confused because he didn’t look the part he was playing. So they tried to convince him. To change him. When they couldn’t, they simply gave him a label – Transgender.

Ugly. Pretty. Hindu. Muslim. American. Indian. Fat. Thin. Well-dressed. Shabby.

We are surrounded by labels. We label every person we see on the street. We label our friends, our relatives. Some of us have said to ourselves, “I don’t care for the label. I just want to be.” But peer pressure changes that. Social standards gives us the need to be labelled.

I knew a girl who captioned her wedding picture – “I’m a wife !” Ok.. So what ?! Did you love him any less yesterday? Do you now plan to wear sweatpants for the rest of your life?

I get it when someone says “We’re married !” It is a beautiful thing. I do believe a relationship changes after marriage. It is somehow more special in an unexplainable way. But it bothers me when the first thing someone wants to flaunt about it is the label.

If you’ve been around for a while, you know that I very strongly believe “Love is love.” Have you seen certain people at a wedding – they cry when they hear the vows? When the rings are exchanged? When the promises are made? Have you seen the exact same person stand out on the street and chant “Say no to homo” ? So what were the tears of joy at the wedding for? The bride’s dress? The groom’s tux? The flower girl’s hair? If it was at the sight of true love, then why does it have to change with the label?

Every war has two sides. Both sides with children and elderly. But we don’t see that. We don’t think “That child is just like any other child.” We just go with the label. What if we stopped doing that? What if we took that label away?

When you disagree with the label you see at the store, you walk away. Why can’t you do that with people? So he’s fat. She’s black. They’re gay. Why does that change the way you look at that person? And if we are so desperate to put a label for every person we see on the street, here’s the easiest one – Human Being. Everyone deserves to be treated the same way. Every love deserves a chance. Every darkness deserves a dawn. And if you still feel an undying need to judge someone and label them, I advise you to start with the person in the mirror.

So go on. Go stare at the mirror. Look deep into their eyes. Feel their emotions. Understand their love. Remember their path. And while you’re at it, tell me – What does the label read ?

Understanding the Differences

In a world of over-achievers, I’m a mediocre. I live my life in a way that I see fit and not everyone understands or approves of it. But that’s every one of us, isn’t it?!

My brother has a book coming out called Ketchup & Curry. As he explained to me the concept of the book, I started thinking – We live in a world that is unbelievably diverse. What I saw in Los Angeles,  I can never imagine seeing in my city and it works the other way around as well. So what happens when one of us decides to go and live in a place that is filled with people who couldn’t be more different than you are?! How do you live in a foreign country surrounded by people who are unlike you and still live peacefully and happily?

I’ve travelled quite a bit. My passion is to learn and understand different cultures and someday, write about it all. I need to be the most nonjudgmental human being on the planet to pursue a career out of that. Like I’ve mentioned before, my parents raised me saying “thou shall not chill with a man who is not your brother, father, family or betrothed.” When I first moved to a foreign country, the first couple I saw making out on the street were both women. Here’s the culture shock – you don’t kiss people in public. If you’re older than 20, your own father will flinch when you try to kiss his cheek in public. Then comes “OMG ! THAT’S TWO WOMEN !” But I thought that was the most beautiful thing. The freedom to be who they are and not having to hide. I lived there for about four months. When I left, I no longer had the need to judge people for the choices they make out of love. That was the first thing most people didn’t understand.

When I started university, my classes were only a few hours a day. I had plenty of free time on my hands and I spent three quarters of them on YouTube. Have you ever been so bored that you started out with a music video but a few hours later, found yourself in that weird part of youtube? That happened to me. I was watching Paradise by Coldplay and somehow ended up watching videos of people with Gender Identity Disorder and videos of Transgenders and their everyday struggles. In my city, the only kinds of transgenders I’d encountered were the ones who usually come and ask for money. When you say no, they try to bully you into giving them money or whatever it is that you have. So whenever I saw them, I’d get scared and try to walk away. But those videos forever changed my idea of them. I never realized how incredibly nice they can be if you just understand them and accept them. You know when you’re the black sheep in the family and everyone’s giving you the cold shoulder and you just look at them thinking “My friends understand. Why can’t you? Come on ! A little acceptance would be nice!” Imagine living life like that every day. But you’re not just asking your family. You’re asking the entire human race (with the exclusion of a few people here and there) to understand you and accept you. I might not be their best friend, but I stopped running away. I chose to stop and give them an answer when they asked me something. Sure there are some of them that are thieves and cheaters. Tell me a time when a man or woman you trusted wasn’t a thief or a cheater? We’re all human beings and the least we can do is treat each other the way we’d like to be treated. In a society that already lived like that, I learnt to accept them and live in peace. That’s the second thing most people don’t understand.

I still meet people who are completely different from who I am. I meet people who make choices I can never imagine making for myself. “She had six boyfriends in the past” is a statement that is approved in one culture while looked down on in another. Judging the people who disapprove of it isn’t going to make my life any better. But that doesn’t mean I have to change who I am. Every person is entitled to their own opinions. I can’t control my thoughts about things. Similarly, the other person’s thoughts are his own.

I can be cheesy here and say “Please let us love one another.” But that’s a statement that won’t ever work. We can’t all love everything. So let me tell you what I’ve learnt in my life – “Yes, we’re all different. We may not all have the ability to accept our differences and love each other. But the least we can do is to keep the hate to ourselves. Stop the stupid fights on comment sections. Stop comparing. Stop name calling. You do your thing and let them do theirs. If you don’t like something, walk away. It is not your place or in your right to judge someone who likes it. You can go ahead and live your life the way you want to. But the next person’s life is theirs. It’s their choices. It’s their interests and if they screw up, it’s their consequences. Unless you’re asked, don’t give your opinions. It’s as simple as that. Remember, who you are is insignificant when you’re gone. It’s the words you say and the actions you do that you leave behind..”

In a world of over-achievers, I’m a mediocre. I live my life in a way that I see fit and not everyone understands or approves of it. But nobody gets to judge it. Nobody but me.

And that’s the only thing I wish people would understand.

“I’m Not A Girl Anymore..”

Slowly, with life experiences and baby steps, from high school to university to a working environment and the real world, watching our friends grow into adults, observing our changing needs and desires, understanding our lives changing and learning the ability to accept it – this is how a girl, any girl, must realize that she is no longer a girl. That she is indeed a woman.

But this world doesn’t work like that anymore. In this world, women walk around scared and insecure because they have been pushed to grow up. Because our societies have started perceiving us as women before we could even understand the complex simplicity of that word.

The 23-year-old intern in Delhi, gang raped by a boy who shouldn’t have known that much and men who should have known better.  The number of people who pointed their fingers at her for getting in that bus in the first place. Here’s an idea. Maybe, she didn’t know that much yet. Maybe she was still that little girl who believed that the world was filled with superheroes. That every man was a brother, a father, a best friend. That when they look at her, they would see the child that they can befriend, not the body that they can use.

The 24-year-old techie in Chennai, gang raped. People came up with a million reasons. She should’ve known better than to walk alone in the middle of the night. “She should’ve known better.” Ever think that maybe she needed more time to know better? That maybe, just maybe, she didn’t see what the society saw? But we don’t care. She’s 24 ! She’s a woman who should’ve known better !

That’s the thing. Being a certain age isn’t what makes us women. We don’t turn 21 and suddenly say “OHMYGOD ! I’M A WOMAN !” No. We need time, patience, life lessons and lots of experience before we become women.


I’m still a girl. I’m insecure. I walk in fear of who to trust and who to take three steps away from. I accuse every man who looks my way of wrong thoughts. Just because..

I had to endure a doctor move his hand that inch too close, the man on the street wink and make kissing faces, the guy I’ve known since I was two-years-old ask me if I wanted to “go grab a drink after hours” and the society that tells me that all of the above is my fault. Don’t look. Don’t smile. Don’t wear what you want. Don’t do what you feel like doing. And never ever let a man too close, doesn’t matter who he is.

I honestly don’t know if it’s the society’s fault or the men’s. But I do know that something has to change. Drill it into everyone’s brains if we have to but we need to make them understand that while you’re looking at someone you’d like to use, she’s looking at someone she believes will protect her from someone like you..